Who Are the UK’s 2013 Customer Experience Leaders And What Can We Learn From Them? (Part 2)

This post continues the conversation started in the earlier post which disclosed the UK’s Top 10 Customer Experience brands and provided an analysis of the Top 100 brands by industry.

Nunwood’s Six Pillars of Customer Experience

The folks at Nunwood claim “we have used advanced text analytic techniques to derive and then statistically validate the six most important factors that customers talk about when it comes to great experiences”.  What are these factors?

Personalisation: using individualised attention to drive emotional engagement

Time & Effort: valuing the customers time – minimising the effort and creating frictionless processes

Expectations: managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations

Integrity: being trustworthy and engendering trust

Resolution: turning a poor customer experience into a great one

Empathy: achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport

What can we learn about these six pillars of Customer Experience by looking at the Top 10 brands?

In their report Nunwood list the top brands by each of the Customer Experience pillars. So:

  • Amazon sits at the very top for the Personalisation and Time & Effort pillars;
  • Virgin Atlantic is the leader in the Expectations pillar;
  • John Lewis leads when it comes to the Integrity pillar; and
  • QVC leads in both the Resolution and Empathy pillars.

What is not easy to do, from the report, is to see at one glance what each of the Top 10 brands does in terms of these six pillars. So I have taken some time to piece that together for you and here it is:

Top10 CEE Six Pillars Analysis

Coming Next

In the next and last post, I will share with you details of the “brands that have cracked the code” and are making major leaps forward – according to Nunwood. And in particular I will single out one brand that shows up for as being truly innovative in its business model, in customer engagement, in being social and making online community work, in putting its customers truly at the centre of its way of doing business.  I also happen to be a customer of this brand.

Who Are the UK’s 2013 Customer Experience Leaders And What Can We Learn From Them? (Part 1)

I have been studying the 2013 UK report by Nunwood’s Customer Experience Centre and in this post I share with you what shows up for me.

Which are the UK’s Top 10 Customer Experience brands and why?

CEE Top10 2013

Comparing to last year I notice that:

1. Amazon has dropped to fourth place. Why? The report suggests that this is due to two factors: reputation damage related to tax avoidance and performance of delivery companies.

2. QVC (TV centred shopping channel) comes in at no 2. It appears that in previous years the responses failed to meet the minimum required and so QVC was excluded.

3. The Co-operative Bank has not just fallen out of the Top 10, it has fallen out of the Top 100. Given it’s much publicised troubles centred on its finances this does not come as a surprise. Above all, it occurs to me, that a bank has to have a reputation for being financially sound.

4. M&S, one of the UK’s traditional and loved brands, has moved into the Top 10. 

5. Four out of the Top 10 positions are held by two organisations – The John Lewis Partnership and M&S: organisations that have a reputation for caring about their people, caring about their customers and showing this through the quality-range- vfm of their products, and the quality of their service.

Which industries dominate the Top 100 Customer Experience brands?

Given that Nunwood has not done an analysis by industry, it occurred to me that it would be useful to do one. Here is what shows up:

CEE Top100 by Industry

The retail industry leads in the sense that 44 out of the Top 100 places are filled by retail brands. And 10 of the Top 22 customer experience brands are in retail (as classified by Nunwood).  Please note I have not listed all of the retail brands in the Top 100 – too many brands.

The supermarkets take 3 out of the Top 10 places, 7 out of the Top 20 places, and 11 out of the Top 100 places. That is quite some domination given the relatively small number of players in this category.  It’s interesting that all of the big names are in the Top 20 except for Tesco (47), Morrisons (29) and Lidl (53).

The food & eatery industry takes 14 out of the Top 100 places. None of the brands in this category is in the Top 50. It is interesting to note that Starbucks is missing from the Top 100. Could this be due to the brand damage that Starbucks has suffered due to the tax avoidance issue that has hit Starbucks much harder than say Amazon? Who says life is fair?

The travel & tourism industry takes 16  out of the Top 100 places. There is only one brand in the Top 10 (Virgin Atlantic) and three in the Top 20 (Virgin Atlantic, Butlins, Emirates).  Looks like airline travel experience is not that hard to get right if you are committed to getting it right like Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.  The surprise appearance (for me) is Butlins. It looks like Butlins have invested in their staff and their hotels and this is paying off.

The telecoms & media industry only takes 3 out of the Top 100 places.  Do you notice who is missing? All the big brands like Vodafone, Sky, EE, BT, O2, TalkTalk, Virgin Media …… yet these are the very brands that do much talking about customer service, customer experience, customer-centricity. Seems to me that all this customer talk could just be ‘marketing talk’.

The financial services industry takes 12 out of the Top 100 places. And like the telecoms industry none of the big brands – Barclays, RBS, Lloyds, Santander – are present.  It will be interesting to see how much headway the supermarket brands  – M&S Bank (23), Sainsburys Bank (83) – can make in this industry.  Given the shift to digital-mobile banking, it would be interesting to see what will happen when the likes of Amazon decide to go into that market.

The energy & utilities industry. Have you noticed that not one of the energy and utility players is in the Top 100?  No British Gas, no EDF, no Npower, no E.on, no Thames Water, no Severn Trent ….. If the energy industry proves anything it proves this, you don’t need to pay attention to customers when you have structured the industry into an oligopoly and customers have to come to you to buy an essential product.

What does it take to be a Customer Experience leader? 

If there is one thing I am clear on it is this, one cannot become a customer experience leader by bolting on customer experience trinkets to the existing way of being-doing.  This is about as effective as taking a  frigate, adding bits and piece of a fighter plane (say wings), and expecting the frigate to be a great fighter plane. That is just stupid. Most of us can see this stupidity when it comes to warships and fighter places. When it comes to organisations, it is amazing how few see the stupidity of taking this route. What does the Nunwood report say?

Culture and climate are the foundation stone of great experiences. Experiences are delivered through people, the above companies are focusing on creating a culture and climate that starts with meeting all of the customer’s needs, emotional, rational and transactional and then replicating across channels.

Customer experience has many moving parts the key is an integrated approach across a business. It demands an intense focus over the long term. It has to be kept on everyone’s daily agenda. 

This requires customer experience to be woven into the fabric of the company, reward, performance management and planning.

Coming next

Enough for today. In the next post, I will take a more detailed look at some of the more interesting brands in the Top 100.  Until then I wish you the very best.

The Power of Essential Integrity In A World Where Integrity Is Lacking

You are most effective when you act out of essential human values. When you behave with integrity, you use the challenges in your life to express your higher self. You might not always achieve success, but you can always behave honourably……

Essential integrity allow you to develop strength, inner peace, and self confidence. It acts like a climbing harness, catching you when the challenges of the world prove too arduous. When you trust this harness, you feel more enthusiasm and less fear during the climb.

Essential integrity provides the secret to achieving happiness in a world where you will inevitably end up losing all your possessions – even your life and the lives of those you love.

– Fred Kofman, Conscious Business

I say that essential integrity is also the access to living the brand promise, treating employees and customer right, and cultivating enduring-meaningful relationships with all stakeholders including customers. Think Amazon. What does Amazon do amazingly well? Live the Amazon mission (of being the Earth’s most customer-centric company) by keeping its promises to its customers.

I thank you for listening to my speaking. I am grateful that you exist and that in your listening my speaking finds fertile soil. I thank you for reaching out to me and letting me know that my speaking, my existence makes a difference to your existence. What is present between me and you is love.

What Made The Apple Store Experience a Memorable One?

It was early on a Saturday morning when my daughter and I turned up at the Apple store in Reading. What grabbed my attention? The store showed up as clean, bright, open, uncluttered, and spacious. I also noticed that there were many customers there.  Amongst each group of customers there was an Apple employee demonstrating the product and answering questions. I did not notice any customers walking around looking for an Apple employee to help them, serve them.

Whilst I was taking this in, a matter of seconds, Andy approached us to see what we needed.  I shared the reason I was in the store, “My daughters iPod will not charge”, and handed over the iPod to Andy. Then we followed Andy to the side of the store. He found an iPod station and proceeded to mount the ‘faulty iPod’ on the stand. Then I heard that familiar sound when the iPod starts charging. I was delighted to find that this was the case , and said “It must be the cable then!”.

Andy went to get a new cable and within a minute he was back.  He tried out both cables and determined that the existing cable was faulty. In his gentle and non-critical way he explained that the cables did not take too well to twisting: it was the twisting of the cable that had damaged it.  Then he showed my daughter how to take care of the new cable.

I was expecting and ready to pay for the new cable. I did not have to. Andy took the old cable and gave us the new cable free of charge.  We thanked Andy and left.  As I walked away, I asked myself what had made this experience a memorable one.  Here is my answer:

1. It was easy to find/get to the Apple store.

2. I felt comfortable being there.  The store showed up as clean, bright, open, uncluttered, and spacious.

3. I did not have to find someone to help us or to wait around for someone to become free. There were plenty of Apple staff members in the store and Andy approached us as soon as ‘we came through the front door’.

4. I felt trusted. Andy, who helped us, did not ask to see a proof of purchase even though I had it on me and offered to show it to him – I felt trusted.

5. Apple did the job that ‘we hired Apple to do’. Andy figured out what was wrong and solved the problem that had brought us into the store.

6. Education without any blame or criticism. Andy showed my daughter where the cable was weak and liable to get damaged. Then he showed her how to use it so that it did not get damaged.  There was no hint of blame or criticism and this was well received by my daughter.

7. The free cable showed up for as a gift. I am clear that Apple could have charged for the cable and I appreciate that Andy did not charge us. My daughter appreciated it as well!

8. It only took five minutes.  From the moment we arrived in the store to the moment we left with our problem solved, the job done, it only took five minutes.

Why does this matter?  It matters because my daughter walked out of the Apple store delighted.  Which means that she has positive affinity towards the Apple brand – not just the Apple products.  And in turn that means she is that much more likely to buy more Apple products or ask me to buy them for her!  She is only 12 years old. What is her potential lifetime value to Apple?

What Are The Two Most Critical Challenges Facing Marketers?

For those of you who view me as a customer service expert, you might be surprised to know that I have an avid interest in marketing and most of my work over the last 10 years has been with, and continues to be with, marketers and the Marketing function. So in this post, I am going to address what I see as two most important challenges facing marketers and the Marketing function.

Is technology the answer to the challenges facing marketers?

I recently attended and spoke at the Technology for Marketing & Advertising conference/exhibition in London. What I found fascinating is the love of new technology.  I was reminded of the heady days of CRM.  Do you remember those days?  The days when Siebel sales folks would open up every sales presentation with “Siebel is the fastest growing software company ever.” And the point was that CRM technology was going to change the business world and put customers and their wallets at the feet of the organisation.

What is the biggest challenge facing marketing and advertising today?  Is it the lack of technology to gather up all the data on prospects and customers and use this data to fire out marketing propaganda and offers, across a variety of channels; to turn prospects into customers and customers into repeat buyers and loyal advocates?  If the folks in your marketing department believe this then your business is in deep trouble.

The first challenge is that of relevance

When it comes to effective marketing the first challenge is relevance.  From the customer perspective the question is “Why should I listen to you?  Why are you relevant to my life? What do you offer that simplifies/enriches my life?”  Please tell me how technology is going to address this crucial challenge for you.

Look, Sky keeping marketing to me through direct mail, through email, and by telephoning me regularly.  What does Sky want?  Sky wants me to sign up for Sky TV; I was once a customer.  I keep refusing. Why?  My viewing needs are adequately addressed through a combination of Netflix/Lovefilm and going to the cinema.  What Sky TV has to offer is no longer relevant even if it is being offered at half price.

The second challenge is that of the Customer Experience

Marketing is a profession that is tasked with manipulating impressions and emotions through the use of image, words, sounds and story. Put bluntly, marketing to date has been the discipline of propaganda.  The big problem is that this propaganda does not work. Why?  The most pithy answer I have ever come across is that put forth by Matt Watkinson:

No amount of marketing can compensate for an average one-star review on Amazon. You just couldn’t talk the talk anymore, you had to walk the walk. 

If you get this you get the enormity of the challenge.  What this means is the marketers and the Marketing function have to pretty much turn themselves inside out.  They have to transform themselves from image makers to reality makers. Their challenge is to ensure that all the organisational actors that impinge on the Customer Experience do that which is necessary to deliver a Customer Experience that matches the brand promise, the value proposition, and the customer expectations.

Please tell me who the fancy technology is going to help you, the marketers, to influence the minds and shape the actions of all the people in the organisation that directly or indirectly generate the Customer Experience?

My advice to marketers

Technology is a red herring.  Technology allows you to undertake marketing activities.  Technology impacts the operation/mechanics of doing marketing.  What technology does not do is address the strategic challenges. Worse still the pursuit of technology distracts you from the most important strategic challenges facing you, and your business.  What are those strategic challenges?  Brand relevance, and Customer Experience.